Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

The cost of studying in Great Britain: £53,330

A-level student Molly Gilmartin who got four A* grades from Victoria College, Belfast
Conor Cummings from Foyle College who received his A-level results

Northern Ireland students planning on moving to Great Britain to take a degree will pay an average of £53,330 over three years.

As well as average tuition fees of £8,770 per year, students face an average of almost £12,500 on accommodation and over £4,300 on food over the three years they would spend at university, according to a survey new.

Students who opt to go to London for their degree course will be saddled with an estimated debt of £65,504 for three years.

Costs for other areas are: South East, £56,653; South West, £54,625; West Midlands, £53,969; North West, £53,812; East, £53,589; Yorkshire and Humberside, £52,672; East Midlands, £52,376; Wales, £51,764; North East, £50,324 and Scotland, £47,516.

Northern Ireland’s largest student movement NUS-USI has described the average student debut as “extremely worrying”

But its president Adrianne Peltz has urged young people not to give up on their university dreams.

She said: “These figures are extremely worrying, but I would encourage people who are receiving their results now not to be dissuaded from higher education.”

What escalates the cost so dramatically are household bills, books, and travel expenses.

Ms Peltz has said that “the burden of debt is growing heavier and heavier” on students.

Insurer LV revealed the results of the study.

Top A-level grades fall amid wide take-up

By Michael McHugh

The proportion of Northern Ireland pupils earning top grades has fallen for two years in a row because of a broader take-up of A-levels, the awarding body has said.

Almost 32% of students achieved A*-A this year.

A greater range of people are staying on at school and a record number are achieving the qualification - although some with lower marks.

A total of 31.9% were awarded A*-A compared with 34.5% last year and 35.9% in 2010, according to the Joint Council for Qualifications.

Anne Marie Duffy, director of qualifications at Northern Ireland's awarding body, said: "Over time results can fluctuate and this year we have seen a small decrease in the percentage of entries gaining the top grades.

"This is in line with expectations, based on predicted performance for this group of students, and their performance in last year's GCE AS-level exams."

Over the last five years, despite a downward trend in pupil numbers overall, there have been record levels of entries for A-level exams.

Since 2008, entries in Northern Ireland have risen by close to 3,000. The number of pupils is falling but the proportion staying on for A-levels is rising - to 57%.

Ms Duffy added: "Therefore, as the size of the group taking A-levels has grown, the range of ability of the students taking the exams has widened too."

This year there were 32,908 entrants compared with 32,582 last year, and 7.7% earned A* this year compared with 8.6% in 2011. The proportion with grades A*-E remained static at 98.1%.

Girls achieved better results than boys but overall 83.5% of entrants achieved grades A* to C.

There was evidence of growing popularity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) subjects.

The most common subjects were biology and mathematics, while media studies was the only area to have a significant rise in those sitting the exam.

The number of most modern language entries rose and psychology had the largest increase with a quarter more entering, albeit from a relatively small baseline.

Fewer people in this Olympic year were studying PE and English.

Stormont Education Minister John O'Dowd said: "This year there were a record 32,908 entries for A-levels here which represents a 10% rise in entries over the past five years.

"It is encouraging that more pupils are continuing on with their education after the age of 16 and I hope that this trend will continue in the coming years."

Learning Minister Stephen Farry added young people should investigate all available options.

"Our Further Education colleges offer a wide variety of foundation degrees and vocational qualifications and further study may prove beneficial, especially in the current economic times," he said.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union in Northern Ireland, said the results demonstrated the hard work and dedication of pupils and teachers.

"Teachers in Northern Ireland have achieved these results despite the fact that their working conditions lag far behind those of their colleagues in England, Wales and Scotland, a situation which is compounded by a four-year pay freeze and an assault on their pensions," she said.

"The tragedy is that some of the teachers who have worked so hard for the young people who have achieved these results will not be returning at the start of this new academic year as a result of the significant job loss caused by the reorganisation of schools."

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